Some people have been doing The Practice of Living Awareness for almost seven years. Spirit Fire’s free online meditation training and group meditations begins a new round on October 3. We began The Practice by teleconference eight years ago. Can you imagine wanting to meditate so much that you were willing to do it by phone?
Like religion, spiritual practices, or apples, there are many different kinds of meditation. Variety provides one a meditation practice that suits one’s demeanor.
There’s Mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation practice harkens back to the the original source of the term: the Four Mindfulness given by Buddha Shakyamuni. In its original form, mindfulness was a rigorous self-examination and self-awareness process. Its goal was to undo the self. Contemporary mindfulness seeks the same end-goal, but does so with a modern ease and allowance.
There’s Goenka’s Vipassana: Vipassana (vipasyana) was given to humanity by both Buddha Shakyamuni and Patanjali. It is a contemplative process that requires a number of preliminary settled states to be in place first, as well as a fair amount of self-honesty. In a respect, Vipassana, in its original form from the two ancient masters of meditation, is the source of Zen and of mindfulness. The yogi Goenka brought those practices forward in the middle 1900’s and refreshed them. But, like a Zen shessin, a certain exactitude is required of the practitioner, without which there is no vipassana.
There are various Devotional meditative practices: Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist faiths all have devotional contemplative and meditational practices. The distinction of the higher forms of Buddhist practices is that the devotion is to all beings, rather than to a buddha. And, in order to serve all beings, one devotes one self to becoming the buddha that one is visualizing and meditating upon.
There is The Practice of Living Awareness: Sensation and synthesis are two qualities that stand out in this contemporary practice of meditation. Sensation is registered in all of the other practices, but how it is used is distinct with each. Practices that encourage the negation of the body, its aches and pains, its appetites and desires are predicated upon the classical model of leaving the mundane life and its body. The idea was that the body and the physical dimension of life is the trap, the Wheel of Deluded Existence. But, as Buddha Shakyamuni and Patanjali both taught, it’s not the body or mundane life that is the trap, but our emotion-mind-personal complex that is. To sit in pain and try to negate that through coercing one’s mind is not going to bring bliss or peace of mind. So, The Practice does not ask one to suffer in order to learn to meditate.
Sensations reveal the wonder of being alive. That is the gift of several spiritually aware practices: the shamanic and aboriginal traditions, the feminine and earth-based traditions, the tantric and Mahamudra traditions of Buddhism, and The Practice of Living Awareness. The revelations of being here now, fully alive and present are contained in the phrase, “notice the usually not noticed.” A happier, contented, potentially blissful, and vibrant state of being is already available to everyone. Noticing the wonders of life, of being alive, of the myriad expressions of vibrancy going on all around one is the step necessary to change a moment of lack into a moment of awakeness. The sensations of breath, of sound, of lifting one’s eyes to notice life and color and majesty, of raindrop, dew drop, tear drop or puddle, these and more become the foundation for the aliveness that meditation has always intended to unveil. These are called forward in the creative imagination in order to orient the mind and emotions to the sublime in every meditation sitting of The Practice.
Synthesis is the result of drawing upon that which works and always has in meditation training. Synthesis is to blend these threads of meditation practice in a way that blends meditation and one’s life. For millennia, meditation has been done in caves, grottoes, alone on a stone by a river, or in a little room with nothing extraneous. But, the Piscean age is ending and the rigors of self-mortification and abstinence are fading away. Rigor, dedication, abstinence, and diligence are high and noble qualities – but only when lived with a kind heart. Otherwise, they are flawed and cannot bring benefit or enlightenment to self or others. As such, The Practice puts an emphasis on responsibility: the personal responsibility to be a good person, a whole person, an awakened person. With that emphasis, The Practice teaches about breath (pranayama), focus, asana, and the heart.
It’s a modern guided meditation practice designed to teach one to meditate on the cushion and to immediately take the instruction into one’s day. That’s because off the cushion is where the meditative life is lived!
Register is you want to join the online live sessions at 9 am ET each day but Sunday. Sunday’s World Service meditation is at 10 am ET. Register for that as well to join in live. If time zone and life commitments make that time inconvenient, then each day’s meditation is recorded live and posted on The Practice blog. All is free and readily available.
May meditation grace your day, mind, and the life you share with others.